Role-play

Role-play represented by a singer, a mime artist, a football player, a woman balancing a book, a woman with a thumbs up hand gesture.

Role-play activities involve pretending to be a different person or taking on a different role. A role could be developed spontaneously (for example in response to a prop or image) or you might plan carefully to take on a particular role.

During a role play, think about your:

  • voice
  • facial expressions
  • movement
  • posture
  • gesture

For example, you might be asked to create and sustain a particular character you’ve been reading about.

In English, these tasks are usually designed to help you explore characters in a fictional text such as a story or play. It may help you gain a better understanding of a particular character’s role in the plot.

Preparing for a character role-play

When you are given a role, take some time to think about the following:

  • What is your character’s circumstance or story? What has happened to them in the past and how do they feel now?
  • What is their relationship to each of the other characters in the role-play?
  • What do they want from the situation?

Make sure your character is not one-dimensional. We are all complex and your character needs to be too. Think of some aspects of their personality that might seem contradictory. Coming up with a character who is not simply 'good' or 'bad' will be more interesting and believable.

To be successful in your role-play, think about what you should be exploring and why. Your character is more than just a part in the plot - they will have been developed to create an emotional response of some kind, good or bad. In your role-play, keep in mind the themes and ideas of the original story and how the character has been created to help the reader or audience understand and even agree, with the themes and ideas.

It can be useful to make notes about your character before the role-play and to think of words or phrases they would be likely to use.

Example

Your role-play situation is taken from Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Here is your task:

Devise a television chat show in which Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are interviewed.

You are playing the part of the interviewer. As your main job in this role-play is to ask questions, prepare some in advance. For example:

  • How did you feel before, during and after you met the witches?
  • What made you think killing a king might be a good idea?
  • Have things turned out as you expected?

Decide what sort of interviewer you would like to play. You could be friendly and supportive of the Macbeth characters. Or perhaps you will show that you are afraid of them. Use body language, eye-contact, gesture and voice to create and sustain your role-play as this character.

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